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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Unorthodox and extraordinary

Aggies use hot first inning to secure series victory over Gamecocks
Freshman+UTIL+Gavin+Grahovac+%289%29+reacts+to+hitting+a+double+during+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Auburn+on+Friday%2C+March+29%2C+2024%2C+at+Olsen+Field.+%28CJ+Smith%2FThe+Battalion%29
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Baseball is a sacred game, one that has resisted change and embraced the conventional approach for its almost two centuries of play.

However, Texas A&M baseball has nothing but unconventional this season, and it has paid dividends.

The same Aggies who have only two sacrifice bunts the entire year, whose first baseman and catcher lead the team in steals and whose freshman leadoff hitter has nearly four times as many home runs as their cleanup hitter.

A&M has challenged many of the accepted conventions of baseball this season, and it is one of the reasons that the Maroon and White now find themselves on an eight-game winning streak after they beat South Carolina 6-3 on April 6 to secure the series victory on the road for their ninth ranked win of the season.

The aforementioned freshman leadoff hitter, 3B Gavin Grahovac, wasted no time getting A&M on the board early, as the Orange, California native ripped a hanging breaking ball over the top of the zone deep to center field, bouncing the ball off the batter’s eye. The Aggies came into the game 20-1 when scoring in the first inning, and the scoring did not stop there.

Graduate DH Hayden Schott, who had 3 runs batted in yesterday, tacked up two more in the first frame, singling to right field after junior CF Jace LaViolette singled and graduate C Jackson Appel reached second from a fielder’s choice and stole second.

A&M is not a team that steals bases often — tied for 160th in the country — but against the Gamecocks, the Aggies had the green light to run. The Maroon and White snagged six bags with not a single runner caught stealing.

That same inning, freshman LF Caden Sorrell flashed Sportscenter-Top 10 caliber leather, reaching way over the outfield fence to snag a would-be home run ball from senior 2B Parker Noland, reeling the ball in with the top of his glove to rob the Gamecocks of a run.

From there, A&M pitching staff — whose 3.17 earned run average is second in the nation — got to work trying to preserve the Aggies’ early advantage. Junior RHP Tanner Jones got the start and despite holding South Carolina scoreless the first two innings was chased out of the game in the third.

The Thorsby, Alabama native forced two early outs, but could not secure an inning-ending one, loading the bases before a single from junior DH Kennedy Jones brought in two runs, putting the Gamecocks on the board and giving Jones an early exit.

In relief, sophomore LHP Shane Sdao secured the final out of the inning in quick and emphatic fashion, as junior LF Blake Jackson sent a shot right back to the southpaw, who quickly snagged the ball out of the air to save at least a run for A&M.

Sdao did not slow down, as the Montgomery native went 4.1 innings, only allowing two hits to give him the win for the evening. To relieve Sdao, senior LHP Evan Aschenbeck came on to finish the job.

Aschenbeck pitched 1.1 innings in the Friday opener, but the Aggies’ ace reliever, who leads the conference with a 1.32 ERA did not miss a beat, only surrendering a solo home run in the eighth inning.

After A&M added insurance in the top of the ninth, Aschenbeck continued his dominance in relief, surrendering a single to right field before striking out the side to give A&M an elusive road SEC series victory.

THe Aggies will look for the sweep on tomorrow, with first pitch set for 12:30 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Hunter Mitchell, Associate Sports Editor
Hunter Mitchell is a sport management senior minoring in journalism. Hunter has covered football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, hockey, cross country, track and field, along with swim and dive. Hunter's favorite sport is college basketball, and he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association. Hunter also hosts weekly episodes of the Home Turf sports podcast.
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